In the Spirit
Bellingham Cocktail Week
What: Bellingham Cocktail Week
Where: Thirty venues throughout Bellingham
WHEN: Feb. 1-10
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
In between a “Get Naked” kickoff event Fri., Feb. 1 at Swim Club and a Bartender Competition Finale Sun., Feb. 10 at Uisce Irish Pub, the third annual Bellingham Cocktail Week will fill its calendar with approximately 25 happenings designed to draw attention not only to the creative elements that make the city’s bar scene stand out—think locally sourced ingredients and master mixologists—but also to the new and longtime venues that make the event possible.
“We’ve had a lot of new bars pop up (with more on the way), and they can all succeed if the community keeps showing up to support them,” event co-organizer Sara Holodnick says. “Not to get too mushy, but bars offer comfortable spaces for us to gather with our loved ones, celebrate our successes, and take heart in the fact that we don’t have to go through hard times alone. People should know that the best way to make sure this event sticks around is by attending events, taking advantage of specials, and sharing what’s going on with their friends.”
To that end, Holodnick reports that the number of bars and restaurants participating in the 2019 iteration of Bellingham Cocktail Week has tripled since the spirits-focused soiree first began, and that at least twice as many events have been added to this year’s roster, with a number of them benefiting nonprofits such as Lydia Place, Northwest Youth Services, LAMBDA Legal Defense, and more.
In addition to the aforementioned “Get Naked” gathering—which will feature Jamie Buckman of Edrington America presenting an evening of delicious cocktails made with the newly released Naked Grouse blended Scotch—highlights include “Cribbage and Craft Cocktails” at Rook & Rogue, a “Battleship Royale” event at the Redlight, “Weird Science: Classic Cocktails and Some Wacky Twists” at the Firefly Lounge, Amaro-based cocktails at Redlight, “Celebrate the Sour!” at the Black Cat, a Harry Potter Party at Best Buds Gaming Lounge, and “Dungeons & Dragons and Mead Cocktails” at Honey Moon.
That lineup is far from inclusive. Attendees can also look forward to a Whatcom READS “Think and Drink” gathering at Uisce, where a guided discussion of this year’s community-wide read—Timothy Egan’s The Big Burn: Teddy Roosevelt and the Fire That Saved America—will coincide with delicious themed cocktails.
And while libations will be be part of the fun, Boozy History Tours with the Good Time Girls both downtown and in Fairhaven will focus more on who drank what, where and when during various periods of “Bellinghistory,” and the evolution of liquor laws and local watering holes—from saloons to lounges. Downtown, the tour will culminate with vintage cocktails at the Ranch Room (one of the oldest dive bars in town). And, after finding out more about “box-rustlers” and gambling dens during the Southside’s Wild West days, wet your whistle with history-inspired cocktails at Archer’s Ale House.
Black Sheep on Holly, Blue Abode (Barkley), Burnt Ends (Lynden), Chuckanut Lobby Bar at SpringHill Suites, Evolve Chocolate + Cafe, Galloway’s Cocktail Bar at Village Inn, Goat Mountain Pizza, Jack’s, La Fiamma, Lighthouse Bar & Grill at Bellwether Hotel, Miller’s Back Door, northwater at Holiday Inn Bellingham Airport, Ovn Wood Fired Pizza, Red Rum, Saltine, Skylarks, Temple Bar, the Filling Station, the Orion, and Twin Sisters Brewery will also be getting in on the action, so make sure to persue the full lineup online, and then get planning.
“I’m most looking forward to seeing the brilliance of our local bartending talent on display this year,” Holodnick says of her own itinerary, which also includes a Cider Cocktail Challenge Thurs., Feb. 7 at Herb’s Cider. “It serves as the qualifying round for our bartender competition. Our judges will travel around to the 10 bars participating in the challenge, and anyone in town can stop by those bars to try the drinks on special. I’m excited to see how competitors work with something most folks wouldn’t think of as being a cocktail ingredient. Plus, the three finalists from that challenge will compete live at Uisce’s Wrap Party.”
Imbibing responsibly is a Bellingham Cocktail Week priority, and Holodnick suggests planning ahead when it comes to finding your way home—whether than means downloading an app, making sure you have the number of a taxi company, arranging a ride from a friend who’s abstaining for the evening, or volunteering to be the designated driver for a night. Limiting your alcohol intake is also important.
“Even though we have lots of events happening, they really focus on drinks made with high-quality ingredients—as opposed to encouraging folks to drink large quantities of low-quality spirits,” Holodnick says. “I recommend folks make it a point to try a few events that might help them understand the ingredients that go into a cocktail (Temple Bar’s Singani 63 event, Goat Mountain’s agave education event, Ovn’s Amaro-tasting flights, and Back Door’s Meet the Maker event are a few that come to mind.)”
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